Note: These rankings differ from the official week 3 rankings because the Monday meets will not be included until next week, but I took them into account here because they’ve already happened as I write this so…it would be weird to pretend they haven’t?
1. Oklahoma Sooners
Previous ranking: 1
Oklahoma retains the #1 spot in the rankings despite a “bad for Oklahoma” 197.000 at the North Carolina tri-meet. It wasn’t a tragic performance by any means—it’s still a 197—but Oklahoma did count a fall on floor and did not vault up to the level of the previous weeks, really feeling the absence of Maggie Nichols. Nichols was withheld from the meet with a bruised heel but is not expected to be out for any lengthy period. Oklahoma is going through a similar process to last season on floor where there’s a core group that we know will score well, but that group does not yet have six members. Many of the people auditioning for the role have not been hitting, so watch that space. As happened last season, I’d expect Showers to take that leadoff role eventually, but she’s been out on floor for a few weeks now.
2. UCLA Bruins
Previous ranking: 2
With its massive Monday score, UCLA nearly managed to catch Oklahoma, something that doesn’t typically happen during the regular season. Now, of course all the top teams get massively overscored especially at home, but UCLA’s Monday competition was next-level. That means we basically have to throw out the 197.775 for what was a very nice performance, a good progress point for late January particularly on bars and floor, but also nowhere near the kind of postseason performance that score would indicate. UCLA did get two new 10.0 starts into the vault lineup from Poston and Wright (Wright in particular will have earned a spot with that vault), so while the vault lineup is still clearly in the experimental phase—with some very experimental landings—the pieces are coalescing faster and more realistically than they have before. You could actually see UCLA showing up to nationals and counting five 10.0 vaults this year.
3. Florida Gators
Previous ranking: 3
Florida upped its average by a tenth this week to stay in third place, though the big news will not be the score but the victory over LSU at LSU—a big deal because of like SEC things or whatever. Also a big deal because it was super exciting, the tightly matched contest we all wanted it to be, where the difference seems to have been Florida’s exceptional beam performance that outscored LSU’s floor total in the final rotation. It’s not an easy feat to win a meet on beam, an event that is evaluated much tighter than floor is. With lineups like UCLA’s, Oklahoma’s, and Florida’s, we are living in the golden age of beam in NCAA right now.
4. Utah Utes
Previous ranking: 4
Utah retains its #4 ranking with another low 197, this one earned away at Oregon State. All of Utah’s scores this season having broken the 197 barrier, and only UCLA and Florida have higher basement scores than Utah in the young season. Utah will feel pretty comfortable about what’s been happening so far on floor and on vault (especially with some 1.5s still to get into the lineup from people like Tessen), the next step being to prove that the bars and beam 9.9s exist to keep pace with the teams fighting to make the last day. So far, Utah has just 1 beam routine of the 18 competed so far that has reached 9.900, which is going to keep the total scores away from the high 197s that we’re starting to see elsewhere.
5. LSU Tigers
Previous ranking: 4
All is not lost for LSU, recording a season high and perfectly usable 197.425 over the weekend. Nonetheless, a second-consecutive defeat, LSU’s first loss at home since falling to Alabama in March 2013, marks this as a disappointing start to a 2019 season that has so far failed to meet the lofty expectations we have for LSU. LSU did look pretty good on bars and vault against Florida, getting five 10.0s into the vault lineup including the introduction of Kelley and the Priessman 1.5. Like UCLA’s vault introductions this week, they provide an encouraging look at what LSU may be able to do down the line. But there will be some second guessing the decision to put Priessman in the floor lineup for a routine that looked like it hurt. A lot. The question of the hour: what actually is LSU’s best floor lineup? And how different is the reality from the ideal?